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In the US and Canada, growth in time spent with media by adults has slowed to a crawl—at least until the next big technological disruption comes along. In the UK, by contrast, time spent with media continues to rise, even if less so than earlier in this decade. Significant growth in time spent may come to a halt in the next decade, but it has not done so yet.
As explored in a new eMarketer report, “UK Time Spent with Media: The Complete eMarketer Forecast for 2016,” the increase in mobile time is robust, as it is elsewhere in the Anglosphere. The difference in the UK is that these gains have not been partly offset by declines in time spent with desktop/laptop. Indeed, that category continues to make small increases in time spent by UK adults.
If there is a saturation point in media consumption, people in the UK have not reached it. Thanks mostly to mobile, the average adult will increase daily time spent with media by 21 minutes between 2015 and 2016, with smaller but still nontrivial increases foreseen for the following two years. The total is already close to 10 hours a day this year (at 9 hours, 47 minutes) and is expected to pass that milestone next year.
These increases are helped along by the fact that gains in mobile time spent have yet to push time spent with desktop/laptop onto a downward trajectory. So far, time spent with smartphones and tablets has been in addition to desktop/laptop time rather than displacing it. This contributes to the fact that digital time spent will exceed TV time spent by close to 2 hours this year. Mobile time by itself is expected to surpass TV time in 2018, at 3 hours, 11 minutes vs. 3 hours, 4 minutes. Meanwhile, it is a sign of print’s marginal status in consumers’ daily media usage that its total for time spent in 2016 (18 minutes) will be smaller than mobile’s one-year gain for 2016 vs. 2015 (22 minutes).
Time spent with TV is not in freefall. But its losses each year are big enough that they add up to something significant over the span of our forecast period: Between 2012 and 2018, TV is expected to give up 13 minutes of daily time spent and come close to dropping below the 3-hour mark. The contrast between TV and mobile is stark. Smartphones will gain more than an hour and a half during that period and pass the 2-hour mark in 2018; tablets will add about three-quarters of an hour and get close to the 1-hour mark.
Looking at the share of time spent with various media gives another perspective on these trends. This is shaping up to be the first year in which time spent with digital among UK adults exceeds—just barely—time spent with traditional media. Digital is expected to get 50.7% of the total, with mobile generating more than half of this (27.2%). The share of time spent just for smartphones (18.0%) will exceed the sum of shares for radio (14.1%) and print (3.1%).
Desktop/laptop is in an anomalous position: It is slowly losing share even though it is gaining (also slowly) in minutes spent—just not gaining them as fast as total time spent with media is expanding. Mobile will nearly triple its share between 2012 and 2018, going from 11.0% to 31.0%. Smartphones still account for the bulk of mobile time, with an 18.0% share of total time spent with media in 2016, vs. 8.3% for tablets.
eMarketer corporate subscription clients can view the full report here.
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